Zero Harm campaigns are headless turkeys

Zero Harm campaigns are headless turkeys

I picked up the mobile and a booming voice rattled my eardrums, “we have killed twelve people in our first six months of the year”. Joe Guilfoyle an uncompromising and passionate Safety man was on the phone and he was fuming. Joe was an ex-diploma student and he became a top level risk manager. He was a quick and ferocious learner and could pick and choose job roles with global companies.

“I pinned the managing director to the wall and I was roaring and shouting in his ears. What do I do Andy?” said Joe, “we have spent huge sums of money on training, applied every risk control technique in the book. I have read thousands of blogs on health and safety, consulted with the workforce, spoke with University HSE officers and psychologists to solve the problem but we are still killing people around the world. What do I do?”.

I paused and said “open your laptop, switch it on and tell me what the screen saver is”. Zero harm was the reply – the main safety campaign on all employee’s computers.

Therein lay the problem. Zero accident campaigns are all passion and purpose but lacking direction. They get safety going, but eventually the campaign will foster negative behaviour such as: false reporting, cover ups, non-reporting and confirmation bias. Joe left the company and moved on.

Ditch target zero, remove zero harm posters and smash the billboards that count the days since the last accident. Instead, deliver pragmatic health and safety solutions that everyone can believe in and feel in their gut.


How should we set a Health and Safety target?

You will find the answer in good old HASAWA 1974 Section 2. It talks about safe plant, safe systems, a safe place of work and adequate welfare. Therein we will find our targets.

HASAWA 1974 Section 2 Target

2.1 Ensure health, safety and welfare of all employees

1 million safe working days in….
2.2 (a) Safe plant (b) Safe systems (a)100000 safe plant conditions check

(b)200000 safe people, condition checks during task, during access

Understand accident investigation much better by expanding your knowledge, for example, the definition of accident is:

An unplanned unpremeditated event caused by unsafe acts and/or unsafe conditions

So, to prevent accidents, we must:

  1. 1. Plan
  2. 2. Premeditate (what if?)
  3. 3. Remove unsafe acts and conditions.

If we apply good management techniques we will count and target unsafe acts and conditions that were made into safe acts and conditions; leading to smiling, breathing, happy, safe people


Training is an investment for success

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